I am a journalist – the contribution of international internships to identity formation and leadership


How can an internship affect identity formation? How does the way interns see themselves influence their chances of securing employment in their desired industry and build their confidence to excel in their field? This presentation will explore both questions as well as provide a brief overview of identity formation and the reported benefits of international work experience over domestic. Specifically, international internships in China are being investigated for their role in professional identity formation and leadership skills among journalism students from one Australian university. Using semi-structured interviews from a sample of students who took part in internships, we will determine their perspectives on the impact the internship had on their professional identity formation, discuss how an internship experience can affect self-identity in general and comment on how this links to employability.

Learning objectives

This presentation will investigate how international experiences for students accelerates their identification as a legitimate member of a profession. Participants will understand how establishing a professional identity can boost employability prospects and empower our future leaders.

The presentation will be based on findings from a study of journalism students, but will have application for tertiary educators who aim to increase graduate employability and leadership capacity among students in any discipline. The small-scale study adds to the body of research on the benefit of international internships on students’ preparedness for future employability and contributes to research on professional identity formation and socialisation.

Dr Mignon Shardlow, University of Notre Dame; Paul Bailey, Pagoda Projects Ltd

Senior Lecturer in Journalism

University of Notre Dame

Dr Mignon Shardlow is head of the journalism program at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle and teaches capstone courses focused on accelerating the professional identity of her students. Mignon is a journalist turned academic with a pedagogical and research interest in fostering a bridge from the university to the workplace. Her doctoral thesis investigated the professional identity formation of beginning journalists.